SNAP Prods Alameda County DA to Investigate Oakland Diocese’s Response to Abuse Allegations

Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, recently wrote to Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley asking her to investigate whether or not the Oakland Diocese reported allegations that Fr. Alex Castillo sexually abused a minor to law enforcement in a timely fashion.

Mandatory reporters in California must make an “immediate” phone call to law enforcement when they learn someone is accused of child sexual abuse. Clergy, such as Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, are among those who are required to make that call. Failure to report is a crime punishable by up to 6 months in jail or a $1000 fine.

From media reports it appears that no one from the Diocese made an “immediate” report to the Oakland Police as required by law. Moreover, the Church may have known about the allegations earlier in the month, or even since last fall.

“We know there was a delay in reporting,” said Dan McNevin, Volunteer Oakland SNAP Leader and a survivor of abuse himself. “What we don’t know is if the delay was a matter of hours, days, weeks or even months. We are hoping that the DA can nail down the timeline, and make a determination as to whether the law has been violated.”

Volunteer Northern California SNAP Leader Joey Piscitelli, also a survivor of clergy abuse, added, “Any delay in reporting not only endangers children, but also creates the opportunity for the accused or his supervisors to destroy evidence and tamper with witnesses. In the case of a foreign born cleric like Fr. Castillo, it also provides a window to flee the jurisdiction, which occurred in the Santa Rosa Diocese in 2006.”

The survivors’ group says that the Oakland Diocese does not have a good track record on reporting abuse and removing perpetrators from positions where they could continue to hurt children. Instead, Oakland Church officials did what bishops in other places across the country and around the world have done:  they moved the offenders to new locations, and sweep these crimes under the rug with quiet payments to victims and empty promises that the perpetrators would be removed from ministry. As a result of this dangerous, self-serving behavior, multiple children in multiple locations in California suffered irreparable harm.

SNAP hopes that the DA will take a serious look at what happened in this case.

“A Church that doesn’t immediately report allegations of abuse to the police is not living up to its obligation to protect the children entrusted to it,” concluded McNevin.

A copy of SNAP’s letter to the DA, available here, was mailed on February 7.

CONTACT: Dan McNevin, Volunteer Oakland SNAP Leader (dmcnevin@aol.com, 415-341-6417), Joey Piscitelli, Volunteer Northern California SNAP Leader (caljoey1@aol.com, 925-262-3699) Melanie Sakoda, Volunteer San Francisco Bay Area SNAP Leader (melanie.sakoda@gmail.com, 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

 (SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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